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Does Carbon Offsetting Work?

According to the EPA, the transportation sector generates the largest share of greenhouse gas emissions. Aside from one’s personal driving, transportation also increases one’s carbon footprint with air travel and online shopping. This is the same for businesses with employee travel, office supplies, and shipping. Consumers will frequently have the option to offset the carbon footprint of trips through airlines and hotels or when purchasing products online. What does this mean exactly? Customers can pay an additional fee to offset their travel or shipping carbon footprint. 

But does carbon offsetting actually work? Many experts say no.  

At Eco Promotional Products, our standard shipping method is UPS Ground using their Carbon Offset Program. We do not pass this cost onto the customer, nor do we believe using this program 100% negates the carbon footprint of a shipment. Where we put our efforts into reducing the carbon footprint of our shipments is by reducing packaging waste. Using packaging solutions that are appropriate in size, contain recycled content, and are reusable or recyclable helps reduce material waste and lower carbon emissions. Take, for example, a pen sample. The carbon footprint of shipping a pen when it is shipped in an appropriately sized, recycled, and fully recyclable envelope will be much less than if it was shipped in an oversized box with excess packaging on the inside.  

In addition to reducing packaging waste, we frequently suggest products to customers that are produced closer to the end destination to reduce the number of days in transit and always encourage ground shipping over air shipping, which has a much higher carbon footprint. 

Many companies that are trying to offset their carbon footprint plant trees. Trees naturally absorb carbon dioxide, which reduces carbon emissions. For every invoiced order, no matter how small, Eco Promotional Products dedicates a tree planting in the name of the company or individual through Trees for the Future. We plant trees at Eco Promotional Products but don’t plant trees to offset our footprint. We do it to make the world a better place.  

The trees planted through Trees for the Future will give families the ability to transition from destructive farming techniques to a Forest Garden system that not only sustains and empowers them but changes their lives forever. The Forest Garden Program is a sustainable agriculture practice where farmers plant a specific variety of crops and trees in phases over a four-year period. These practices can generate an average income increase of 400 percent while benefiting the environment. The Forest Garden is a multi-tiered mixture of trees, shrubs, and crops that grow on about two acres of land. Locally based technicians are trained to work on the ground with groups of farming families. They design Forest Gardens that will maximize fruit and crop yields and provide consistent income and nutrition while also improving the quality of the land being farmed. 

If a company is looking to purchase quality carbon offsets, it’s important to look at offset programs that are most relevant to the organization and address as many of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals as possible. For example, Trees for the Future meets nine out of seventeen in the categories of environment, food security, social, and economic.   

Brian Palmer at explains carbon offsets in a nutshell: “While proponents view high-quality offsets as a way to support carbon-fighting projects, critics say they are merely a license to pollute. When you buy an offset, you are paying someone to cut her emissions so you don’t have to.” He and other experts say what works better than buying offsets is reducing a personal or business carbon footprint in any way possible. Fly less, drive less, eat less meat, and shop responsibly for higher-quality products that are meant to last. 

Eco Promotional Products is here to help customers choose the best promotional products with the lowest carbon footprints.